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“All the things I could do if I had a little money”

What Are Biotech Investors Looking For In A Pitch Deck?

Delivering a well-thought-out and well-designed pitch deck can mean the difference between raising enough capital or running out of money before reaching the next value inflection point. Investors are often looking for the next best scientific breakthrough and, also fundamentally, to invest in people. The right content will showcase the value of the science that formed the basis of the company’s plans, as well as highlight leadership’s ability to execute and spark further conversations with investors.

After years of heavy financing in the biotech sector and the recent record-breaking number of life science company IPOs, we now face a much more reserved investment appetite. Many companies could find themselves in a situation that resembles the 70’s rock band ABBA’s lyrics quoted above unless they can successfully communicate their value to the investment community. This makes optimizing your investor relations slide deck incredibly important. Here we have compiled the most critical considerations for finetuning your deck.

What Are The Must-Have Sections Of An Investor Deck?

First and foremost, the deck should tell a story and, like any good story, should grab the audience’s attention. Ask yourself: what will keep an investor reading? Of all the opportunities presented to investors, what will appeal to them enough to take a meeting and learn more?!

The deck should begin with the investment thesis and “the ask.” Don’t be afraid to state what you want since the rest of the slides should support your position. Next, present the issue and your proposed solution. Never assume your investors understand the problem – be sure to substantiate it with facts, expound on the limitations of any existing “solutions” and clearly explain why the need is still unmet and/or your solution is better.

Next, succinctly lay out your proposed solution and how and why it will be successful. Without question, another must-have section is the data backing your claims – investors need to see clear validation to believe in the opportunity. Too often, supporting material is missing since certain data are deemed proprietary or patents may be pending, but a “hook” is still necessary. At the very least, allude to what they may see under a confidentiality agreement.

After proposing your solution and how it will be successful, include the history and a future timeline of events to show the journey investors will follow and the value creation path. Strong relevant bios for the management and advisory teams will underpin the expertise of those leading the strategy and execution.

Additional slides should detail the intellectual property position, if applicable, and a competitive landscape analysis.

Stating there are no peers or competition may seem like the ultimate convincing factor, but it will likely raise questions, such as, “is the company indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?” or “is the management’s competitive intelligence research not complete?” Be prepared to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the competitive market and share a promising, yet realistic, outlook.

The order of the sections can vary slightly based on the specific needs and goals, and careful consideration should be given to the amount of information disclosed. Too much text too early can be confusing, so try to avoid repetition and keep bullet points concise. When possible, make the slide title reflect your key point. Finally, give thought to appropriate visual elements, especially when communicating technical messages.

What In Your Deck Might Turn Off An Investor?

Hard-to-follow logic: Jumping between sections will inevitably make it difficult for the audience to understand the story.

Too much data: You do not need to include every scientific experiment ever done, just those that clearly demonstrate the validity of the approach.

Lack of clear value proposition: The slide deck must show the value of the approach and the expertise to execute.

Not communicating the ask: Ask for what you want and defend the number with data. An investor wants to know that you understand the cost to move forward.

Not communicating the potential return and timing: Include the anticipated timeline and predicted value inflection points, using those words.

What Is The Optimum Length Of The Slide Deck?

The time given to present will determine the length of the deck: a 15-minute investment banker pitch will likely consist of approximately 10 slides, whereas a 1-hour investor meeting will be in the range of 20-30 slides. Science-heavy slides require more explanation, and you will want to leave room for a Q&A section as well. You can always include supplemental slides with a table of contents at the end to provide more detail, but the best decks are starting points that inspire curiosity and follow-up conversations.

How Important Is The Format Compared With The Content?

Even the most beautiful design cannot raise investor appetite if the content is not strong or clear. However, a visually pleasing look can make a lasting impression and have an impact on how the content is received. They work best hand in hand; graphics can make complex scientific concepts more digestible.

A pitch deck is one of the most important materials a biotech company can invest in, especially during early stages when relying on external private funding before reaching commercialization or entering the public markets. Every company is different, and every deck should be too. Matching the content and design to achieve specific goals requires corporate communications experience and a mixture of investor relations, scientific and creative expertise. If you are interested in discussing how we can help with your deck development, please contact our team to learn more.

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